March is Seagrass Awareness Month.
Seagrasses are plants that flower underwater - not to be confused with seaweeds, which are marine algae. While there 369,000 species of flowering plants, there are just 60 species of seagrasses. They have colonized all coastal and marine areas, down to a depth of about 90 metres, and grow everywhere around the world except Antarctica.
Seagrasses don't get the attention the attention they deserve, yet they are incredibly important:
- providing essential habit for juvenile fish and a food source for marine herbivores,
- cleaning water by trapping sediments and absorbing nutrients,
- protecting the coast from waves, and
- storing carbon!
Unfortunately for seagrasses, they mostly occupy nearshore habits which means they bear the full brunt of human coastal activities. It is worth giving a shout-out to Seagrass Watch, an organization which is raising awareness of seagrasses and engaged in seagrass monitoring. AusOcean will also be looking at ways to get involved in future.